By Cathy Thurber
This weekend my husband and I had a wonderful opportunity to spend some quality time together. Since we both work full time and he also attends college classes (plus I’m the never-ending taxi driver after school), quality time is very hard to find. Usually we’re like ships passing in the night, waving to each other as we go by and trying to get in a few seconds of hasty conversation. It was a blessing, then, to be able to take the time and actually talk to him and even enjoy ourselves a little bit.
The time together also made me realize how much each person can begin to feel like they’ve been left behind in a relationship. Because my husband works a later shift and also goes to school at night, he rarely has any time to spend with the family. This tends to leave him feeling like he’s not a part of us…that he’s just in his own world watching ours revolve without him. Feelings like this can happen to either person in the relationship and it’s important to make sure that they know they’re a vital part of your life. Here are a few things to think about when it comes to marriages (or any long-term relationship):
1. Remember – there was a reason you actually liked each other! Try to relax and have a night out once in a great while to get back in touch with the couple you were. I know some couples who have a once-a-month date night. While that’s not always possible for us, it’s a wonderful concept.
2. While you’re rediscovering why you liked each other, don’t forget that you need to allow your relationship to change and grow. This is imperative. More than likely, you’re not going to be the same person forever, and neither is your spouse. Therefore, your relationship needs to shift and grow with you. Be open to each others’ feelings – and definitely keep an open mind to change. You never know if his (or her) new hobby will be something you enjoy, too.
3. Conflict stinks. I hate it when there is a problem that I can’t handle right away – I just want to get it done and over with. But, there’s also a right time to settle it. Always try to wait until both of you have cooled down and then you can be rational while discussing it.
4. Balance can be the key. It gets very easy to just fall into the daily rut, where you feel like a hamster running in a wheel. I tend to get so deeply involved with my kids lives that I need to remember to come up for air. That’s easy to do when everyone has someplace to be nearly every night and you’re the delivery system. Try to remember to take some time with not only your spouse, but with your family and friends. Even a phone call works. Trying to keep a balance between all the good people in your life will keep you level-headed. This way you’re not just surrounding yourself with one aspect of your life.
5. Most importantly – communicate with each other as much as possible. And I don’t just mean talking – listening is the most vital part. Try to understand the other person’s perspective. Ask questions so you know you truly understand what they are trying to articulate. And make sure that you communicate your feelings to them. Don’t hide them, afraid that they won’t like what you have to say. Honesty with each other is essential.
Trust me – we’re not a perfect relationship. But, after 17 years of marriage we’re not doing too badly. And we’ve definitely learned a few things as we’ve gone along. Taking time for just the two of you – and talking with each other – is a win-win situation.